[Weekly Dose of Wisdom] Dedicated to Oscar de la Renta

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Though I’m not the biggest into fashion, I can almost guarantee that every woman in this country – if not the world – has had at least fleeting dreams of walking down a red carpet donning an Oscar de la Renta gown. How do I know this? Because I most definitely have and I’m far from what I’d consider “girly”.  When I found out last night that he’d passed away it got me thinking of the photo shoots I’d done in the past, and his exquisite, elegant and feminine sense of beauty, style and grace. I wanted to pay homage with a few quotes of his that really resonate with me – as well as some of my favorite dresses of his. We’re missing a fashion icon on Earth, but I promise that Heaven has never looked so stunning.

 

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[The Audiofiles] Partying with a Purpose: The Dawn of Transformational Festivals

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We remember the sound of dial-up modems and the touch of rotary phones, make references to archaic cartoons like Jem and the Holograms and Legends of the Hidden Temple and laugh at our assorted childhood crushes from Saved By The Bell and Boy Meets World. The powerful product of the love generation, we’re toeing a thin line between Gen X and the Millennials, though in all honesty we’re somewhere delightfully in between.   I was already well-integrated into my collegiate career when Facebook sprouted, like a rogue weed from the garden of the interwebs.  Not to say I wasn’t already an avid Internet user, with multiple AOL and AIM screen names, frequenting chat rooms and discussing the latest music trends; but the social world was more or less turned on its head with the advent and evolution of Facebook and Twitter.

While the world spins itself into a frenzy at the latest and greatest “social” apps – like ‘Ello, Path, MySpace – my personal belief is that we’re losing our emotional and social intelligence in favor of quantitative statistics, figures and metrics; attributes that honestly have no foundation or basis within our communities. We’re a generation of dreamers and doers, who haven’t had it lost upon them that good things come with hard work and diligence; and we’re at a turning point in our lives where we desire to be a bigger part of a community, perchance even starting our own “tribe” with an intermingling of friends, extended family and blood relatives – or, a family of our own. We’re an enigma, we’re an entity; hear us roar.  

As the children of hippies, whether we’ve known it or not, we’ve been raised with similar morals, ethics, a general lack of organized religion and push towards spirituality.  And now that I’m engaged, turning 30 and settling down in my lifestyle a bit, I’ve found a new respect for the values that my parents implemented in my youth.  Growing up, I was used to having .  On the flip side, one of the beautiful things my parents did was opting for African-American and Native American Fables and tales over the Bible or the Torah.  I always lamented that I was missing out on the community aspect of organized religion, but as I’ve grown older – I’ve discovered that, I’ve discovered that I can pursue and derive that community on my own terms, which is infinitely better.  For me, that community is bas(s)ed on a shared love of music.

Raised on hearty Rock ‘n’ Roll riffs and Motown hits that I can now understand my parents were sarcastically referring to as oldies, there was something so enticing about music of my youth; from soulful storytelling, to moving melodies and music with a symphonic, harmonic message. As my musical tastes ebbed and flowed over time, I found myself front and center at rock shows, ranging from Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold, Bad Religion and Taking Back Sunday – the heart and soul of the music were there, but so was the pushing, raging, shoving and screaming.  The concerts and shows I frequented, regardless of how big or small of a group I was with, became individual endeavors, a solo experience

Dance Music has been fueling my life for the last decade, starting with my first EDC while I was still in college…

“I remember walking in, arms firmly linked through a best friend on each side. I was trying to figure out which side of the rabbit hole I wanted to wake up on; I was trying to come to terms with my world spinning  inside out and upside down. Girls in neon tutus blocked every other turn but we were always greeted with friendly smiles, open arms and PLUR handshakes.

About ten minutes into the festival, my friends nodded in symmetry and announced they wanted to sit down and chat. I nodded in turn, but in silent agreement that I wasn’t in the mood for those kind of shenanigans.  I did a quick gut check and dove right in; or at least – tried to.  I must have looked as out of place as I felt, because immediately a charming sprite of a girl grabbed my arms and insisted I follow her to the dance floor. “Is this your first EDC?” she mused, but didn’t wait for a reply because she already knew the answer.  “You need to let it go…” she continued, her eyes dilating with excitement “…let it all fall down; shake it off and breathe it in.” She was speaking in tongues but I understood every word.  One by one, my hands wound up entwined between her delicate fingers and then, with glee, she announced my next move: “Spin! Faster! And now, just let it go…”  For the next five minutes,  I twirled with the delight of a toddler and every preconception I had about that night washed over and off of my like Spring rain.  She smiled whimsically, like whatever magicians trick she pulled actually produced a rabbit out of a hat.  She smiled with satisfaction; I smiled back in wonderment.  We hugged and danced off in different directions – but the lesson remains:  I haven’t been the same since.”

I walked away from that event completely transformed, set off on a bold, new tangent; entering a new phase of life; evolving into the individual that I want to become. There was something so special about the outlying community, a group of strangers waiting to become your friends, equally enamored by the music and the sense of personal expression.  But, after your ump-teenth rave with your friends, you find that instead of PLURing together – they start to blur together; basslines, sets, stages, days, events. Is there something more? And the answer is yes. My parents always quipped that doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is a form of insanity; after a certain amount of raving,  I think the same can be said for the mainstream quotient of our current festival scene.

In the last five years, EDM has catapulted into the spotlight; but for those of us that have been there for years, and even before my time, EDM symbolized an underground movement where the freaks, the misfits, the lone wolves and wistful wallflowers could come together and become something greater, together. Now that it’s gone ‘mainstream‘, so have many of the concerts – held in large metropolitan areas with crowds in cookie cutter outfits, bobbing on queue to the same beat and ample amounts of vendors (whose money more often than not doesn’t go back into the community) and leaving the venue in a general state of disarray. IMG_2272.JPG

Here’s the thing, musicians – and the unique world they curate – are by proxy, always evolving, ever-changing, catalyzed by passion and moved by the moment.  And with the community surrounding Dance Music, one thing has become crystal clear: there’s a want for something more meaningful than just partying all night; something deeper than tossing back bottles and breathing in cigarette ash; something that resonates with you for longer than one night and inspires you, as an individual, to become a better version of yourself while engaging in your community.

Though I’d had my sights set on Lightning in a Bottle for a few years prior,  Coachella was my gateway drug to Transformational Festivals; it was the first time I’d had my 360 view of the world turned upside down by my surroundings, and for multiple days at that.  The costumes, the stages, the stage makeup, the bass frequencies, the art installations – the art !!, the theatrics of The Do LaB’s stage at centerfield, submerging myself in my first of many Lucent Dossier Experiences and an extreme sense of community and belonging.  After two years of watching the Polo Fields turn from green to a muddy brown, strewn with garbage and leftover fabric from meticulously planned outfits meticulously while seven stages bled together, I knew that it was time to move on. With each and every one of their events, from large scale multi-day festivals to low-key concerts, The Do Lab unabashedly embodies the essence of Transformative Festivals all along the California Coast.  From local level to large scale, their shows constantly offer up novel musical pairings in conjunction with a live painting, immersive entertainment and an enigmatic community of modern day Renaissance personalities.

After years of pining, months of planning and weeks of anticipation – I  to LIB in the Summer of 2013; no expectations, just wild eyed in wanderlust, anxiously awaiting the next music laced adventure.  Waltzing through sculptures that were thrice the size of my body, the live art humbled me – and was unfolding in front of me; I was amazed by the live acrobatics, performance art and creative prowess of not just the artists – but the community at large.  Music takes the backseat to personal growth as bodies gracefully collapse underneath themselves during mid-morning Yoga sessions. Minds expanded and consciousness, both personal and communal, during group workshops and seminars featuring discussions on Sustainable Living, Music as Therapy, Meditation Techniques,  The Art of Tantra, Self Actualization and so, so much more.

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From that weekend on, my three day tango with Lightning in a Bottle manifested into a deep rooted curiosity with Transformative Festivals, Counter Culture and Permaculture, Burning Man ideology, flow performance art and the rich history of West Coast Bass Music.  Plush with the fusion of art, music and culture, living in Los Angeles is the perfect catalyst to cultivate those feelings.  Between Do LaB events, the Melrose Trading Post, the Downtown Art Walk, Venice Beach, Hollywood, the U R Art Festival, or a Sunday at Grand Park – this town is always painted some sort of neon, with shimmer, glitter and technicolor combined. Take one step outside of the city, and California – and the West Coast are essentially the Meccas of Transformative culture, and have been for some time. Burning Man, making Nevada weird for 26 years, started in San Francisco in ’86; the event is almost as old as I am and founder Larry Harvey is my mom’s age.  When I gushed earlier about the commonality with my friendships being that we were instilled with similar values, I can easily parallel that to why we’re equally attracted to Larry Harvey’s brainchild; it’s roughly the same age as we are and the 10 Principles are incredibly reminiscent of   the value system that my parents had in place, where individuality is coveted, creativity is rewarded, art is meant to be climbed on, hugs have more klout than handshakes and the weirder – the better. You call it new-agey hippie shit; we call it a lifestyle choice that we make on the daily.

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At this point – I owe you a definition- Transformative Festivals are an ecologically friendly, multi-day counter culture events with equal focus on mind, heart, body and soul.  They’re set in a lush, natural location so participants can return to their roots – not just as individuals, but as a community with workshops ranging from sustainability to personal growth and artistic expression paired with rich musical entertainment and a ‘Pack in, Pack Out’, or ‘Leave No Trance’ mantra. Over the last two decades, multitudes of these have sprouted all along the Pacific Coast – but most notably in California. Southern California’s Lightning in a Bottle has been going strong for 20 years, Shambhala Music Festival in Salmo, BC has been around for 17 and now that it’s 2014, you can take your pick from a slew of newer ones like Symbiosis, Lucidity, Youtopia, Sea of Dreams, Colorado’s Bloom Festival, Desert Hearts, Forever Never Land and Costa Rica’s Envision Festival – not to mention, the theatrics of live concerts from Emancipator, Beats Antique, Shpongle, and the Lucent Dossier Experience

The more I understand about the culture, the more I want to know – so I invite you to journey with me through my series on Transformative Festivals! I’ll be focusing on their rich history on the West Coast, the infusion of their principles into daily life and the unabashed creativity, energy, effort and curation of an ecologically friendly, socially innovative musical affair. I’ll be interviewing key players, dream weavers, festival organizers and musical tastemakers within the Transformative Community – all in an effort to help you, your friends and the music community both understand the necessity of these events and learn how to incorporate them into our daily lives.

Ps.  This is one of my favorite TED talks – it’s by Jeet-Kei Leung, who’s since gone on to create the Bloom Series – which I’ll touch on in a future post. Enjoy!

[LA Love] Make a Happy Hour Date for Plate38

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Though I’ve been living in Los Angeles for the past six years, I’ve never stayed in one spot for more than two and somehow, I’ve even managed to hop skip and jump myself all over LA ‘Proper‘.  Starting with a two year stint in Korea Town, I migrated to the Miracle Mile area (near The LACMA and the Tar Pits) and then onto two wonderful years submerged in the music, street art and hipster chic culture of the Fairfax District. Now, in my triumphant sixth year in the City of Angels, I’m a happy resident of the Eagle Rock community – caught in a wonderful nook of nature between Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena. Whenever I move, I love taking an entertainment and edible inventory of my new neighborhood and the surrounding digs.

I have a few trusty books that I reference, my favorite being the Not For Tourists Guide to Los Angeles – it has literally anything and everything you could be curious about cruising the community for, from Sports Stadiums to Beaches and Marinas, Arts and Entertainment to City Transit. Plus, I’ve also been known to reference the occasional Zagat Guide and am a tried and true fan of Yelp (and a Yelp Elite, at that!).  Now that I’m situated on the East Side of town, there are a whole host of things that are unequivocally more available on the daily – from nature walks, museums and botanical gardens like Griffith Park , Arlington Gardens and The Huntington,  to Farmer’s Markets, The Eagle Rock Music Festival and delicious restaurants spanning from Glendale to Pasadena, and Downtown LA up to Arcadia. Well, I know I’ve only been over here for about six months – but combine that with the year and a half that I was coming over to hang out with Danny and that’s almost two years wining and dining through the East Side of town, and in that amount of time I’ve turned into quite the little foodie it seems; I can’t wait to share my favorite finds, hidden haunts and unknown gems in my new segment aptly called – LA Love!

Lately, as Danny’s been driving around town he’ll send me text messages with new locations, awesome happy hours and unbeatable meal deals.  One such place was Pasadena’s Plate38; we were initially drawn in by $1.50 for oysters on the half shell, but were absolutely satiated by their  host of small ‘tapas’ style appetizer plates perfect to share, if you can remember how. Even though the weather’s cooled down a bit around town, the sunshine cruises through at a respectable 80 with a lovely little wind chill to make sitting outdoors a cinch; and Plate38 has a wonderful outdoors patio that wraps its way around the building.  Deceptively long and full of warm lightning, it’s perfect for getting the gang together to watch some Sunday NFL games and reminiscing about the weekend.

We grubbed out on some amazing Bloody Mary’s with just the right amount of spice, chicken wings deep fried in duck fat, tuna tacos, duck sliders and so much more on their weekend happy hour menu. Oh, right, and the oysters.  And then I drooled on my keyboard.

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IMG_2106.JPGLocation: 2361 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

[The Audiofiles] Friday Finds

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Finally, it’s FRIDAY; hands down, one of my top five favorite F-words – quite possibly even in my top three. As the weather solemnly shifts from a hot, dry Summer to a delightfully crisp, slightly less warm Fall in Los Angeles – I’ve been more willing to toss on my neon running shoes and hit the pavement in the morning.  In fact, in an unprecedented move – I’ve managed to get my booty out the door 5 of the last 7 days! Not to say that I run the entire 3-4 miles – I skip a bit, definitely do a few mini tribals when the music is too good and I’ve been known to take a walk and or stretch break every now and again.  But, I’ve also gotten in a 9 minute mile and 3 miles in under 30 minutes – so, I don’t hesitate to call that a success.

My favorite part of my morning runs is plugging into some new music and letting the basslines ripple down my spine like an electric current is bringing me to life.  To say that music is my life is an absolute understatement;  I eat, sleep, breathe, run, laugh and cry in tonalities, seductive synths and delicately layered harmonies.  I dabble in all genres of music, and though I’ve found myself deep in the rabbit hole of EDM – I’ve found that my favorite producers and DJs of late truly incorporate and fuse live instrumentation and vocals for more than your traditional experience; and of the ones that deliver the untz and whompage that’s typically associated with the genre – they do it right, with complex layers and heavy basslines that leave you craving more.

This week’s discoveries include the latest from Dillon Francis a delicious Electro House collaboration with Martin Garrix that’ll make you forget he ever produced Animals, a few tracks from UK duo Gorgon City with some of my favorite female vocalists (Katy B and Jennifer Hudson),  PhaseOne’s remix of Xilent‘s Symphony, SLOWOLF’s  phenomenal remix of a  _MØ_ track that I can’t find an original for and last, but certainly not least, a deliriously haunting and equally beautiful track from up and coming star Sweater Beats. Rave it up, rock it out and have a wonderful weekend!

[Tech Talk] The Best Photo Editing Apps for The iPhone

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When it comes to camera, photography and picture editing applications for the iPhone and Android (sorry, Blackberry…) there’s a menagerie of good ones to choose from; so much so, that it might seem overwhelming at times – at least, it has to me. Fortunately for y’all, I have an affinity for apps and a growing love of photo editing. When I start playing around with elements in a picture (Saturation, Contrast, Hue, Tone, Temperature, Vibrance, etc) I have one of two goals. To either make the picture look exactly the way I saw it with my own two eyes, or -conversely – to manipulate the image into something otherworldly and fantastical. My favorite part of the later is to make the unimaginable and unreal both visible and accessible to everyone that so much as glances at it.

Though I’ve technically only had an iPhone since last February, I’ve been using my dad’s deactivated iPhones as ‘Glorified iPods’ for the last three years in conjunction with my varied and beloved HTC Android models. Technically, that means I ‘ve been horsing around on photo editing applications just as long as the next iPhone addict. There are a few apps that I was first introduced to on my Droid, that bless their beautifully coded hearts exist in duplicate in the App Store and Google’s Play Store; when they do, I’ll be sure to point them out. Truth be told, I’m always interested in the latest and greatest apps to see how they stack up against my tried and true go-to gadgets. Some were recommended by friends, others I’ve been lucky enough to snag during an ‘App of the Week’ deal and the residuals – well, they’re just worth it. Without further ado, let’s get to know these awesome, and essentially effortless, editing tools while I use them on some of my favorite snaps.

RePix

A quick fix of an editing app – with great built in presets and easy to use metrics to toggle, it’s fun to edit pics and watch them transform right in front of you. But beyond simple touch ups, you can add flares, bokeh, “magic dust”, crackle effects and more! A great beginners app to getting creative on some pics.

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Fragment

The most fun I’ve had with an app in forever! Currently, Fragment is an ‘App of the Week’ over in the Apple Store so go head and treat yoself to a copy. At a basic level, you’re overlaying and intertwining fragmented parts of the picture on top of itself – the results are spectacular.

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Mextures

Mextures comes with built in filters that you can layer over your images – color fades, grains and blending modes; and it contains fun presets for when you just want to play around.

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KaleidaCam

For those times you just want to be a trippy kitty, this is the purrrrrfect adventure of an app. You can use your camera and snap a pic in app to use, or you can use a pre-existing image on your photo roll and the app will fractal the image around itself and look, well, like a kaleidoscope! There are add ons if you really get into it but the free version is great.

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PixlrExpress (Android Version)

I first fell in lust with this editing app on my Android; there are a few different variations and I’m super happy that there’s a version made for the iPhone. You can do it all – tint editing, filters, color burns, adding galaxies and changing the focus of the picture. A great all around editing app.

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SquareFX

Because let’s face it, we all love Instagram and it would help if the pictures would just fit on their own. With SquareFX, you can pick the outline of your picture – hearts, stars, circles and geometric shapes, the opacity of the background and the color of the background itself.

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FilterStorm

All encompassing editing app for beginners to expert level; highly recommend the iPad version because it’s just that awesome. When you’re editing a picture, the image gets split in half so you can really see what changes you’re making to the original.

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Roll World

Back when I had my HTC, I was in love with ‘Globe Photo‘ – so when I found an equivalent in the App Store, I was stoked.  Roll World takes the two ends of your picture and stitches them together to make ‘worlds’!

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Sketch Guru

If you’ve got the insane idea that you’d like to transform a photo into a chalk scribble, a penciled out doodle or in neon lights – this is your savior. You can literally transform a picture into dozens of other media right before your eyes.

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Over

For those times that you need or want to add some delightful, and colorful, text to your pictures: Over is your man. From flirty to childish, typewriter to serif, the stock version comes with heaps of fonts to choose from and for just a dollar or two extra you can buy awesome add-on packs.

 

 

[Wednesday Watercooler] An October Fall

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I swear it was just the other month that I started this blog, and now – almost four hundred posts and two years later – we’ve really begun to unfold on a beautiful, ever unraveling story together.  Just this year alone, I’ve traveled to the better part of the Western United States and seemingly haven’t been home for more than three weeks at a time. Even though I keep protesting that my birthday just happened, I woke up this morning and almost had a heart attack knowing I’ll be 30 in two months.  At 29, I fell in love, moved in with my two best friends (and our four cats) and mastered the balancing act of having two full time jobs. There aren’t enough hours in the day to read all the books I want to read, get lost in the back streets of my neighborhood, douse myself in new music and spend time with all of the people I love. Suffice it to say, my breaths of fresh air seem to come few and far between and I’ve frequently found myself quoting a childhood book ‘5 Minutes Peace‘ and lamenting on the basic lack-there-of; but to be honest, I thrive when life is like this and wouldn’t have it any other way.

California Knows How To Purr-ty.

Last weekend, Danny, a few friends and I gallivanted just a few feet down the block to the annual Eagle Rock Music Festival, celebrating the arts and culture of our small – yet awesome – community.  For just one day, the streets were transformed into a full fledged fest – fully equipped with 6 different stages lingering to the side streets, boasting a wide menagerie of music 0 from jazz and experimental, to  hip-hop, indie, rock and roll and a whole cacophony of world music.   Instead of charging entrance fee, there was a $10 suggested donation per person that went to the Center of the Arts in Eagle Rock.  Inside the festival you could find a cacophony of creativity and individuality, from families taking their kids out for their first musical experience to the tried and true festies donning their hula-hoops, neon hair and effervescent attitudes.  And there really was something for everyone, from food trucks like Kogi and the Grilled Cheese Truck, to a small Farmer’s Market and locally made goods.  I managed to snag a shirt from my favorite booth – Arm the Animals; they’re a local non-profit that have dedcicated a portion of their funds to No Kill Animal Shelters around Los Angeles. Not only is the shirt fucking adorable, but it’s comfortable and as far as I can tell – puts a smile on damn near everyone’s face.

Red Bull Does NOT Give You Wings, But it Will Give Refunds

There’s nothing quite as American as a lawsuit based on false advertising – and that’s precisely what’s happening with Red Bull. As of this morning, if you log on on through the link above – you can get $10 back.  But, why? Well, as it turns out – beyond the no-wings bit, Red Bull also has no valid claims that it can increase your reaction speed, concentration, or performance abilities. In fact, an 8oz Red Bull could have as little as half as much caffeine inside as compared to a 7oz Coffee from Starbucks.

Get Your Carlton On

80’s Babies, rejoice – the dance move that highlighted our generation is back with a vengeance. Now, I don’t consider myself a DWTS fan; in fact, I didn’t even know what that acronym meant until this article.  But I do know that this is all sorts of awesome and it makes my heart happy: